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February 2016 Prayer Memo

FEBRUARY 12, 2016 (last memo Sept 5, 2016)
from Tim

After a sad, but Christ-trusting farewell to my father on the phone on January 8, when my father had been admitted to the hospital with complications due to his battle with lung cancer, his spirit went home to be with Christ in glory on January 10, 2016. I was able to fly home for several days (Jan 15-27) for the funeral home visitation (Jan 17) and church memorial service-burial (Jan 18) and had a good time to visit with family. All our children living in the US were able to come for a few days as well (Natalie, Jonathan, Janine & Karen). Barbara, Trisha and Nathan remained in Taiwan, and Val was nearing her delivery date as well (see below). As Dad had lived in Vestal NY nearly his whole life, many relatives in our family and many of his friends were able to come to the funeral home viewing (about 135 people, many who I remembered from growing up there)  and memorial service (about 70). I was struck by how this small sampling of visitors showed how many people's lives he touched and blessed, mostly with his musical gifts and his diaconal works of service, especially his reflexology treatments in the past 15 years since he retired from IBM. He also loved to take us all fishing. By God's grace I was able to preach the sermon for the memorial service on Jesus raising Lazarus from John 11. I posted the sermon to my Facebook page and his online obituary written by my Mom is posted here:  My youngest sister Laura has been living at home with them, and she will continue to bless my Mom in the days ahead as she deals with grief and loss after 58 years of marriage together. 

Stories of life continue to spring up from the legacy of Don Yates . . .

Our oldest daughter Val and her husband Jeff Jones welcomed their healthy fourth child into the second stage of life in sunlight and air on January 25, Evangeline Rae Jones. Val has 6 weeks of maternity leave then returns to her kindergarten job 1/2 days in March, then full time April-July. Jeff's student teaching plan at Morrison Academy fell through two weeks before scheduled to start January 6 due to miscommunication between the schools: Morrison's arrangement did not meet the required daily class hours and class topics that PA high school history teaching certification required. This came as a bit of a shock to all of us, as we had been planning for months to cover for his 3 month teaching in central Taiwan, and this plan had put Jeff on a time line to apply for high school history teaching jobs in the fall. Thankfully, we did not have a nanny from the States lined up. Instead, Jeff has taken a new daytime job teaching English at a private elementary school starting Feb 15. Basically this will mean that mostly Barbara will be caring for the two youngest ones during the mornings in March and then most weekdays starting in April. The Jones' currently plans are for Jeff to complete his student teaching in the fall 2016 in the US. We all need lots of prayer for making wise decisions and daily strength for these transitions ahead as future plans are unknown.

Natalie has been enjoying her new job as an executive assistant to Illinois State Representative Tom Morrison. She finds the new people contact and study of government policy issues to be challenging and a good fit for her philosophy and English studies background in college. Doug continues in his 4th semester PhD work at Univ. of Chicago Divinity School in New Testament. Doug & Nat like to visit the weight room at Wheaton for work-outs. 

Jonathan & Kaitlyn are both enjoying their new married lives together living in Davis CA and bicycling to their Master's level classes in International Agricultural Development (they are both in this degree program at UC Davis, Jonie says: "UC Davis is ranked #1 in the world for agricultural schools. Our specific program isn't in any sort of ranking worldwide, since it's a tiny niche in agriculture." I was able to catch up with them for one overnight on my transit through San Francisco back to Taiwan and also see part of the campus and their apartment. They also do lots of climbing gym work-outs to stay in shape for their outdoor adventure type things on weekends like sea kayaking and rock climbing. Kaitlyn will finish her weekend jobs as EMT with the local ambulance service to focus on her on-campus teacher assistant job, as Jonie also has a TA job this year.  Jonie is excited that he got accepted for a summer job as an intern with the Wonderful Company in Bakersfield CA for the summer.They have both been accepted to an agriculture internship in Nepal for the fall semester and plan to route through Taiwan on their way home over Christmas break.

Janine, who moved in with Natalie & Doug last year in April, started her new job in September at Kintetsu (KWE), a world shipping company, originating in Japan about 40 years ago, working at one of its warehouses near the Chicago O'Hare Airport. As she did not have a driver's license or car, she car-pooled with Natalie each day, which added a bit of time to Nat's commute. She started in their air freight customer service division, and has recently been promoted and will start training for a sales job (giving shipping price quotes to potential customers) with them that might involve East Asia travel. She got her IL driver's license and a car in the past few months, so she is now officially part of the work-force rush hour traffic in suburban Chicago. She is still an avid body-builder and a regular at the local LA Fitness Center. 

Karen declared herself a Christian Education major in her sophomore year at Wheaton, loves her classes and has a passion for missions. She's staying busy again this year to help lead the Honduras Project (HP) over spring break, after participating last year. HP involves nearly year-round activities in small group discipleship, weekend work projects, retreats and fund raising. The spring break mission trip itself will involve evangelism, work project to bring potable water to another village and encouragement for believers in the area. She plans to do an urban Chicago Christian Ed. internship semester in the fall. Recently Janine has been picking Karen up to go to church together on Sundays. 

Trisha (5th) and Nathan (3rd) continue in their studies at Morrison Academy Taipei campus. The big news for them is that the school has purchased property outside Taipei city to build a new campus that will also add a full high school program, slated to be completed in 2018. This means we might move closer to the new school to save them the long train commute from our current location. This also means that they will not be living in a dormitory for high school in central Taiwan as their siblings did. The both like their teachers this year and are doing well in school. 

Barbara's sister Becca is visiting us for a few weeks (she works with the United Church of Christ in the Philippines). Barbara continues to participate in the Bible Study Fellowship weekly group studying the book of Revelation this year. She also tutors several Chinese students in English. 

Pray for the family members in their various stages of life and challenges.        


I was scheduled to teach a new 2 credit elective class at CRTS Taipei called "John's Theology" covering John's Gospel, 1 John and Revelation, as an intensive mini-class from January 11-22. A missionary friend came from China to take the class and stay in our apartment. When I got word of my father's passing away, I was able to reschedule the class for four long days of 7 hours each to meet the required class hours January 11-14, so I could fly out on Friday, January 15 to get to New York in time for the viewing and memorial service. God gave us all grace to endure the long days and I mitigated all day long lecture time with some small group discussions and mini-presentations. 


Since returning to Taiwan after my father's funeral, I’ve been busy catching up on CRTS administrative work and preparing for the spring semester. Taiwan is currently celebrating the national Chinese New Year holiday, though a bit more sobering with the news events of the February 6 earthquake (6.4 magnitude) in southern Taiwan that knocked over a 17 story high rise, trapping and killing probably over 100 people in the rubble (death toll is currently at 47, but about 90 more people are still unaccounted for). The collapse of this particular building (and not others of similar or taller size in the same area) was likely caused by substandard construction and illegal interior remodeling that removed structural support.  


I've been working on a revised proposal to the CRTS board to start a Doctor of Ministry in Biblical Counseling, which already passed the faculty at a meeting last fall. I was able to contact and arrange a SKYPE meeting with Robert Kellemen about possibly his coming once every three years to teach a class, which he tentatively agreed to do. I still need to arrange for several more teachers and arrange for more help in my role as Academic Dean. We have a CRTS MDiv graduate who received his ThM from a seminary in the US who is willing to come back to CRTS to teach and help with administration in January 2017, though he is now applying to PhD programs, so there may still be some delay in his availability.   


The difficult marriage counseling case I started last August with one of our married student couples, seems to be making some slow progress in reconciliation and restoration, but as with cases of hidden sins that come out in the open, I can never be sure if I'm being told the truth or lied to regarding current evidences of change. Many times I must ask God for sanctified wisdom to perceive what is happening both from what is said and from what is not being said. I also arranged an accountability partner for one of them to meet regularly with one of our CRTS graduates in hopes that another layer of interaction might assist in growth. 


I have invited faculty to preach from 1 Peter during our spring semester chapel services, in addition to preaching once myself.


My trip to central-eastern coast region of China to teach a one week intensive class on Biblical Theology and Counseling last September went fairly well. There were no evident security issues and the class was attended by 15 BTh and 15 MA/MDiv students from various locations around China. The long 8 hour days of teaching every day were arduous. Many of the MA/MDiv level students had never had a biblical counseling course before, so my course content was really over their heads. The BTh students seemed to have a better grasp on my material than the higher level students since they had been in studies there for several semesters already and had other counseling courses in the past taught by some of my Taiwan CRTS BC graduates. Basically I had planned to cover 8 or 9 different NT books showing themes within each book related to counseling (as I taught in Taipei in spring 2015), but ended up slowing down and covering only three NT books and filling in with some student discussion groups, counseling role play practice and introduction to counseling methods material (though I gave them all my other NT book study notes). 


I hope to get some work done on fall 2015 course grading and do some more spring course preparation in the next ten days. Next week CRTS work picks up with a faculty meeting February 16, followed by semester opening worship Monday February 22, and classes starting that day as well. I have Counseling Theology (3 credits) on Monday afternoons, Youth Counseling (2 credits) on Thursday afternoons and Counseling Case Studies Discussion (1 credit) on Friday afternoons. 


I spoke for about 1 or 2 hours at each at five Saturday morning seminars for the Family Counseling Center from mid-October-early November in Taipei and HsinChu (about 60 miles south of Taipei) and did an all-day parenting seminar in PingDeng for a small church on January 9 (traveled to southern Taiwan by high speed rail and local train). I've preached in a few local Taipei Chinese churches about once/month since November. I also taught a second parenting seminar at Friendship Pres. Church for the English section where our family attends weekly. My work on these parenting seminars is turning into a draft for a book proposal for P&R I am slowing working on. I also participated in two ordination services for two of our graduates now serving full time as a pastors in the Taiwan Reformed Presbyterian Church, and these are some of the sweetest fruits of seminary teaching to see second generation multiplication of ministers who can support CRTS and the growth of the TRPC. I also did some premarital counseling and officiated a wedding for two of our students. I was also able to preach once at Christ's College chapel service. 


CRTS.TV is operational, which you can check out at a 24/7 web broadcast of various Reformed sermons of US pastors with Chinese subtitles (Ferguson, Piper, Sproul, Carson, MacArthur, Beeke, Keller), recorded sermons from Taiwan RPC Sunday services, theological lectures from ThirdMill teachers in Chinese or with their Chinese subtitles, biblical counseling seminars, some example Sunday School teaching material published by the Reformed Press and some CRTS course lectures. However, the staff discovered that last semester's high quality recordings are basically not usable since they did not specifically arrange for the teacher to give a decisive time cut in the lectures every 50 or 55 minutes to enable these lectures to fit into regular daily programming. They will need to do better at scheduling that this semester and arranging the time cuts with our featured faculty members. A couple of my lectures on "What is Biblical Counseling?" Introductory Seminar where I talk about Romans and Counseling will be played this month. 


Also I was honored by the Taiwan Ministry of the Interior last August for 22 years of ministry in Taiwan and offered a gratis alien permanent residence card (APRC) for helpful social service to the country, only requiring a health check-up to get the card. Unfortunately I already did all the difficult application paper work and paid about $700 US for all the paperwork and the APRC fee 10 years ago, but the offer was nice. 


Pray for God’s grace and the Spirit’s wisdom to select and prepare valuable content for students, discipline to budget time wisely and anointing on all my various teaching and counseling ministries this spring semester and wisdom in academic administration.